May sees a recovery in post-election ad spend, despite being the eighth consecutive month of decreased year-on-year growth

The media agency-funded ad market has clawed its way back from a pattern of notable decline, experiencing a strong turnaround in May after the federal election.

The above average recovery recorded by the Standard Media Index (SMI) saw the decline reduce to 1.6%, or $595.9m, and digital ad spend grow for the first time in four months, up 3.6%.

Along with digital (3.6%), radio (2.3%), regional TV (6%) and consumer magazines (0.8%) also experienced May growth.

Metropolitan TV bookings were down 1.9% and metropolitan press down 3.4%. SMI noted, however, that both formats would have reported growth if Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, which spent $60m in the lead up to the federal election, booked its media through agencies.

A 7.4% decline in outdoor bookings was attributed to the format’s exposure to the auto and domestic bank categories, both of which posted double-digit declines in May.

“We have been seeing reduced media spending from the vast majority of all SMI product categories all year so to see such a strong bounce so soon after the federal election is a very positive sign and strongly suggests that market sentiment has moved back into positive territory,” said SMI’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Jane Ractliffe.

“And over the past four months these advertisers – the Liberal, Labor, Nationals and Greens plus union campaigns and campaigns from other interested industry associations – spent $70.5m which is almost a $20m increase on what these same advertisers spent in the four months before the 2016 federal election.

“Among the major changes in political ad spend, this year we saw a far higher proportion directed to metropolitan radio and while digital’s share of this category’s ad spend doubled it still represented less than 12% of all political bookings by dollar value.”

Only 13 of 41 categories reported increases in May ad spend. A string of big movie releases saw strong growth in the movies/cinema category, and travel was also strong.

May is the eighth consecutive month SMI has reported decreased year-on-year growth. Overall, the market is back 3.6% in 2019 to date.


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